View of Boka Tabla at Shete Boka National Park

Shete Boka National Park in Curacao – A Complete Guide

Are you planning a trip to Curacao? If so, consider visiting one of Curacao’s most amazing National Parks, Shete Boka National Park. Shete Boka is on the rugged north coast of Curacao and has incredible views of the ocean and the limestone cliffs of the north coast. You will be captivated by the sight of the ocean as it crashes against the cliffs and the shoreline. And you will simultaneously discover that the sound of the ocean as it continuously crashes against the cliffs is unforgettable.

There are two National Parks in Curacao that you can visit: Shete Boka National Park and Christoffel National Park. Both Shete Boka Park and Christoffel Park are adjacent to each other and located in the northern part of Curacao. You can visit both parks in one day or spread your visit over two days. Luckily, the parks are only a 45-minute drive from Willemstad. For this article, I will focus on one of Curacao’s National Parks. Keep reading to learn about one of the most incredible places to visit in Curacao –  Shete Boka National Park.

About Shete Boka National Park

Shete Boka National Park is a protected area along the northern coast of Curacao towards Westpunt. In Papiamentu, “shete” translates to seven, and “boka” translates to mouth or inlet. Thus, Shete Boka means “seven inlets.” In reality, there are more than seven inlets or coves at Shete Boka. The inlets, or beautiful pocket bays, are protected nesting site for three species of sea turtles. The nesting season starts in May and goes through December. During this time, the activity of the sea turtles is monitored by researchers. The goal at Shete Boka is to maintain a protected nesting habitat to help in the conservation of endangered sea turtles.

View of the coast line at Shete Boka National Park
View of the coast line at Shete Boka National Park
View of the landscape at Shete Boka National Park
View of the landscape at Shete Boka National Park

How to Get to Shete Boka National Park

Shete Boka National Park is located about 45 minutes from Willemstad. To get to Shete Boka, take the road to Westpunt (Weg Naar Westpunt). As you travel on the road to Westpunt, you will see signs for Shete Boka National Park the national park is adjacent to Christoffel National Park in Westpunt.  

Visiting Shete Boka National Park

As you drive into Shete Boka, you will see the visitors center. This is where you will pay your entrance fee and receive a map of the park which is a great guide of the entire area. The parking lot and restroom facilities are near the visitors center. You will also find tables where you can have a picnic while at the park. 

There are several points of interest that you can visit at Shete Boka National Park. When you enter the park, you will receive a park map with all points of interest clearly marked, including the location of all observation platforms. The main points of interest are the inlets, which include Boka Wandomi, where the Natural Bridge is located. Boka Tabla, Boka Kalki, and Boka Pistol. The view from these four inlets easily makes Shete Boka one of the best National Parks in Curacao. You can opt to hike to each area or drive. The car routes are clearly indicated on the map of the park. If you drive, you will still need to hike a short distance to reach the point of interest. However, the hike is more like a short walk to each point of interest. 

Hiking the Routes at Shete Boka National Park

If you decide to hike the park, you will find ample parking near the visitor center. You can then use the map to decide which path you would like to take and which inlet you would like to visit first. You should wear proper shoes as the paths are rocky, and take plenty of water as it gets hot in the park. It is a good idea to wear sunscreen and have a hat to protect yourself from the sun, as there is little to no shade on the hiking paths. Remember to leave no trace and throw all trash away in the trash receptacles during your visit to the park.

No littering sign at Shete Boka National Park
No littering sign at Shete Boka National Park

Opening Times and Entrance Fee

The closing times can be confusing as one of the pamphlets we received when we entered the park stated that the closing time was at 4:30 pm. A different pamphlet stated the closing time was at 5:00 pm. The general information we were told was that Shete Boka National Park is open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. You need to arrive at the park no later than 4:00 pm as there is no entry permitted after 4:00 pm. You are also required to leave the park by 4:30 pm. It is a good idea to verify the closing time if you think you will be at Shete Boka after 4:30.

The entrance fee to the park varies depending on if you are a local resident of Curacao or a tourist.  For tourists, the entrance fee is $15.00 USD (FL 25.75) for adults. For children 6 years of age to 12 years of age the entrance fee is $2.00 USD (FL 3.50) per child. Children younger than 6 are free. Local rates are FL 2.00 per person, and children under 6 are free.  You can get more information about Shete Boka National Park from the Curacao Tourism Board.

Hiking in Shete Boka National Park

There are two hikes that you can go on, which lead to the viewpoints for the different inlets at Shete Boka. You will be able to visit the blowholes and sea caves and have amazing ocean views. When you enter the park, you will receive a map with information on the different areas to explore. The map you receive will have the hiking paths clearly marked. You can hike to all points of interest during your visit simply by following the paths on the map. If you do decide to hike Shete Boka, you should start your hike early in the day. The hike could take between two to three hours, depending on how long you visit each point of interest. It can get hot during the day, and there is no shade, so starting early is better.

Walking path at Shete Boka National Park.
Walking path at Shete Boka National Park.

Visiting Shete Boka on Cruise Ship Days

There is one important thing to keep in mind when you visit Shete Boka early in the day. On days that a cruise ship is in town, there will be more guests at the National Park, as a visit to Shete Boka is usually offered as an excursion. This means that there will be more people at the park earlier in the day than on non-cruise ship days. While there will be more people visiting the park earlier in the day on cruise ship days, you should still begin your hike early due to the afternoon heat. 

The Boka Kalki Trail to Boka Pistol Trail

The Boka Kalki to Boka Pistol hike takes about an hour. On this hike, you will visit Bolka Kalki, a beautiful picturesque bay with mangroves that offers protection to various species of wildlife. After exploring Boka Kalki, you will then hike to Boka Pistol, where you will see and hear the incredible force of the ocean as the waves shoot up through the blowhole. You can view the water from the wooden platforms or get closer to the water. If you are standing close to the water, there is an excellent chance of getting drenched by the ocean water. 

The Boka Wandomi Trail to Boka Tabla Trail

The Boka Wandomi to Boka Tabla hike also takes about an hour. On this hike you will start at Boka Wandomi which is a beautiful natural bridge. You can hike down the inlet to view the sea cave and get a different view of the natural bridge. From Boka Wandomi, you will next hike to Boka Tabla where you will have an incredible view of cliffside caverns and the ocean waves crashing into the caverns. 

Boka Wandomi direction sign
Boka Wandomi direction sign

Explore Both Hikes in One Day

You can definitely do both hikes in one visit. This should take about two hours. The actual time for the hikes depends on the amount of time you spend at each point of interest and how fast of a hiker you are. Expect to spend about two and a half to three hours at the park if you decide to hike to give yourself time to truly enjoy the sites. As always, you should be prepared with lots of water, sunscreen, and a hat as it will get hot on your hike. There is also little to no shade on the hike. 

The Amazing View at Shete Boka National Park

The ocean is very fierce and strong on the northern coast of Curacao. Therefore, you will have incredible views of the seaside cliffs and huge waves crashing on the shoreline. The force of the ocean on the north side of Curacao lends to the amazing views at the inlets in Shete Boka National Park and the opportunity to take some incredible photos. 

View of Boka Wandomi in Curacao
View of Boka Wandomi in Curacao

The Main Sites at Shete Boka National Park

There are four main points of interest that are depicted on the map handed to tourists at the visitor center. They are Boka Wandomi, Boka Tabla, Boka Kalki, and Boka Pistol. 

Boka Wandomi

Boka Wandomi is the western most inlet at Shete Boka. Most people begin their visit at this inlet. At Boka Wandomi there is a Natural Bridge that has been carved out of limestone by the crashing waves of the ocean. There are two viewing points at Boka Wandomi. The first is the wooden viewing platform where you will have an incredible overview of the Natural Bridge and the large waves crashing on the Natural Bridge. This area is easy to find as you will see it when walking towards Boka Wandomi. The second viewing area gives you an eye level view of the Natural Bridge. 

You will reach the second viewing area by taking the hiking path that is separated by the inlet. This inlet area is dry meaning that the water does not reach this area. Use the steps to hike down to the inlet. Once you reach the ground level, look for the steps that take you to the secondary viewing area. You will have a better view of the Natural Bridge if you hike across to the other side of Boka Wandomi to get an eye level view. The steps are rocky and so is the inlet so you should have proper shoes on. If you decide not to go to the secondary viewing area, you will still have an amazing view of the coastline and the Natural Bridge from the viewing platform.  

View of Boka Wandomi at Shete Boka National Park in Curacao
View of Boka Wandomi at Shete Boka National Park
View of Boka Wandomi in Curacao
View of the inlet at Boka Wandomi

Boka Tabla

Not surprisingly, Boka Tabla is the most popular inlet at Shete Boka and a great place to capture a few incredible photographs. The waves crashing against the shoreline have shaped the cliffside into a table with sea caves ans underground caverns. It is this phenomenon that makes Boka Tabla completely awe-inspiring. Boka Tabla is an impressive and stunning inlet to visit. It is no wonder that most people are ready with a camera in hand to capture the magnificent waves as they crash on the limestone bluffs. 

When you arrive at Boka Tabla, there will be two viewing areas. The first viewing that you will more than likely see is the top viewing platform near the coastline. Here, you will see the incredible ocean waves as they crash on the cliff sides and under the cliffs where the ocean has carved out sections from the force of the water. It is absolutely stunning to see. The second viewing area is really a path that takes you down to the sea caves.  Follow the path and enter the caves to hear the sound of the ocean waves in the caves and to get a beachside view of the phenomenon.     

View of Boka Tabla at Shete Boka National Park
View of Boka Tabla at Shete Boka National Park
Partial view of the inlet at Boka Tabla in Curacao
Partial view of the inlet at Boka Tabla in Curacao

Boka Kalki

Boka Kalki is a bay with a stretch of beach where you can see sea life, such as crabs, walking over sedimentary skeletal remains of corals. To reach Boka Kalki, you will walk through a small forest of mangrove trees. After a few minutes of walking, you will reach the beach area of Boka Kalki. Boka Kalki is a nice bay where you can get close to the ocean. During certain times of the year, you might even see some of the different species of sea turtles burying their eggs. Of course, you should keep your distance from the sea turtles as they are protected and certain areas might be designated as not accessible in order to protect the sea turtles.  

Boka Pistol

At Boka Pistol, you will see an impressive blowhole. The name “Boka Pistol” comes from the dramatic sound produced by the powerful waves that crash into the narrow opening of the coastal inlet. The noise resembles the firing of a pistol. There are two viewing areas at Boka Pistol, a viewing platform, or if you choose, you can view the blowhole closer to shore. 

Boka Pistol is characterized by its rugged cliffs and the relentless force of the Caribbean Sea. Both of which create a mesmerizing spectacle as the waves surge and explode against the rocky shores. During high tide, the force of the water that feeds the blowhole is stronger, and with such great force, the height of the water can be impressive. 

Boka Pistol at Shete Boka National Park
Boka Pistol at Shete Boka National Park

Is Shete Boka National Park Worth Visiting

Shete Boka National Park is one of the most incredible places to visit in Curacao. The rugged coastline and the strong ocean waves on the north coast of the island are very different from the calm southern coastline of Curacao. On the north coast of Curacao, you will have spectacular views of the ocean waves as they crash against the coastline. Shete Boka National Park is the best, if not the only, place where you can see the powerful force of the ocean at work in Curacao. You also have spectacular panoramic views of the surrounding area including Christoffel mountain. Shete Boka National Park is definitely worth visiting!

Local Beaches Close to Shete Boka National Park

After a day of exploring and hiking Shete Boka National Park, you might be ready to cool off at one of the local beaches in Curacao. Luckily a couple of the best beaches are a short drive from Shete Boka. Playa Forti, Playa Kalki, and Grote Knip are a short drive from Shete Boka National Park in Westpunt.

If you are interested in exploring the Caribbean, you can read our posts about traveling to other Caribbean Islands, such as Grand Cayman Island.

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